I doubt if a heartier, stronger, healthier physique, more balanced upon itself, or more sound, ever lived, from 1835 to ’72; I considered myself invulnerable.
In February ’73 I was stricken down by paralysis.
At the eleventh hour, under grave illness, I write and tell you the exact truth—neither better nor worse.
I find myself continuing on here, quite dilapidated and even wreck’d bodily.
My paralysis has left me permanently disabled, badly lamed in my left leg, and have bad spells, occasionally days, of feebleness, distress in head, etc., mostly without serious pain,
Unable to do anything of any consequence,
Looking now very old and gray, (but that is nothing new,)
I think I shall get well yet, but may not.
Ah, the physical shatter and troubled spirit of me,
The worst trouble is bad spells in the head—very irregular, sometimes an hour or two and then let up, sometimes a whole day, and even two days, with spells pretty severe and tedious.
The doctor comes every day; he still thinks I will recover.
Cure: great care, good surroundings, time, and hygiene.
I am probably improving, though very slowly,
The probabilities are, (in my opinion anyhow,) that I shall get partially well yet—
But it is best for you to be prepared for something different.
Don’t begin to worry or cry about me, for you haven’t lost me yet, and I really don’t think it is likely yet,
But I thought it best to give a word of caution, if such a thing should be.
However it goes, you must try to keep up a good heart—for I do.
It is so slow, so aggravating, to be disabled, so feeble, cannot walk nor do anything, when one’s mind and will are just as clear as ever;
Mentality, in the way of clearness, never affected at all, except that I very easily tire, (the brain as it were easily gets fatigues and sore.)
I still think I shall get over this, I am certainly encouraged to believe I am on the gain.
But I am not out of the woods yet. Have distress in the head at times, but keep up a good heart—or at any rate try to.
Bodily I am completely disabled, but still write some for publication, often as there comes any lull in physical sufferings—must occupy my mind.
I see now much clearer than ever—perhaps these experiences were needed to show—how much my former poems, the bulk of them, are indeed the expression of health and strength, and sanest, joyfulest life.
I am laid up here with tedious paralysis,
For the last ten weeks I have not felt inclined to write,
Have suffered in the head, walk hardly any (from the paralysis.)
My health, I am encouraged to think, is perhaps a shade better,
I have never been entirely prostrated,
I am feeling well enough to be hopeful—think I shall get well.
Whether it is because I am hopeful, or whether the precursor of health yet, after all, (tedious as it is a-coming,) this deponent cannot swear; but we will think it the latter.
Still suffering pretty badly—have great distress in my head, and an almost steady pain in left side. But my worst troubles let up on me part of the time—the evenings are my best times—and somehow I still keep up in spirit, and, (the same old story,) expect to get better.
My mind is just as clear as ever, and has been all the time,
I have not been at all down-hearted either,
I almost wonder I stand it so well—for I do stand it—quite shattered, but somehow with good spirits;
Good spirits and primal buoyant centre-pulses down there deep—I believe I have it in me perennially anyhow.
I find the experiences of invalidism and the loosing of corporeal ties not without their advantages, at last, if one reserve enough physique to, as it were, confront the invalidism.
When I have my bad spells, I wait for them to fade out.
After a week of physical anguish,
Unrest and pain, and feverish heat,
Toward the ending day a calm and lull comes on,
Three hours of peace and soothing rest of brain.
NEXT: RECOVERING HEALTH